Homemade Pie Baking Tips

November 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Recipes

Image by Ilja via Flickr

Homemade Pie Baking Tips
by Jill Cooper

If you love baking pies from scratch and have the time to do so, then go for it, but don’t feel guilty if you can’t. There are many ways to get that homemade taste without as much work. For example, say your family loves pumpkin pie but every year you notice that they only eat the filling and leave most of the crust. Then, this year, don’t put your pumpkin pie filling in a crust. Just pour it into a well greased baking dish or pan to bake. This will save you time and calories.

If your family loves apple pie but you don’t have time for a crust then make an apple crisp instead.

For homemade cinnamon rolls: Use frozen dough — most people can’t tell the difference. I’ve told this story before but it is a perfect example of what I mean. My grandmother-in-law made the best “homemade” noodles that everyone fought over and raved about at every family get-together. No one made noodles like grandma’s. One day I decided to ask grandma what her secret was and she took me to her freezer and laughingly, pulled out a bag of frozen egg noodles. Everyone assumed that she had made them from scratch.

Make your life easy and take shortcuts when you can. It is much less expensive to use convenience foods sometimes than to go out to eat.

Here are some more pie tips for you bakers and non bakers:

For something different, try serving your apple pie with butter pecan ice cream instead of the usual vanilla and/or top it with a little caramel ice cream topping.

Replace 1/4 of the white sugar in your apple pie recipe with brown sugar and/or replace your regular spices with pumpkin pie spice *(below).

You can give canned apple pie filling more of a homemade flavor by adding apple pie or pumpkin pie spice* to it.

Lime juice works much better than lemon juice to prevent fruits like apples from turning brown.

When making fruit pies, microwave the filling for 5-7 minutes before pouring it into the crust. This prevents the crust from becoming overly brown before the filling is completely cooked. In the case of an apple pie, you won’t have to worry about partially cooked apples.

When making pumpkin pie: Before you pour in the filling, bake the crust for 2-3 minutes just until it starts puffing a little on the bottom. Watch it carefully because it only takes a minute and you don’t want to totally cook it. This really helps prevent those sometimes very soggy pie crusts.

If you like cheese with your apple pie, mix 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese into your pie crust and then layer the apple filling with another cup of grated cheese.

If your pies are too runny, add 1 Tbsp. of tapioca to your filling.

When making pecan pie, melt the butter in a saucepan until it turns golden brown. Watch it so it doesn’t burn. This adds the most wonderful caramel like flavor to your pie.

When making a graham cracker crust, add a little cinnamon to the mix.

The Best Pie Crust

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups shortening, cold
1 egg, cold
1 Tbsp. vinegar, cold
5 Tbsp. cold water

Mix flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives. Add egg, vinegar and 3 tablespoons water. Mix lightly. If dough is too dry, add more water. Mix with hands. Don’t overmix. Mix just until the dough sticks together. Divide into thirds. Roll out to make 3 pie crusts. When using the crust for the top of the pie sprinkle sugar on top. Crust can be frozen in balls and then defrosted and rolled out when ready to use. Makes 3 crusts.

Graham Cracker Crust

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 stick margarine, melted

Mix all ingredients together and press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool and fill with favorite pudding filling. Makes 1 crust.

Pecan Pie

1 stick butter
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
1 1/4 cups pecans, chopped
1 (8-9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Brown butter in a pan until golden brown. Do not burn. Cool. Add other ingredients in order given in a separate bowl. Mix well. Blend in cooled butter well. Pour into pie crust. Bake 10 minutes at 425° and then 40 minutes at 325°. Makes one pie.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cloves

Mix ingredients well. Makes 1 teaspoon. Use in any recipe calling for pumpkin pie spice.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit LivingOnADime.com

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Snow Ice Cream

February 8, 2010 by  
Filed under For Kids

<a href=”http://www.linkedtube.com/A1Ar-Zbn9TI2fb05e39618d8af8cf07fd7bebc61da6.htm”>LinkedTube</a>
From LivingOnADime.com

Snow Ice Cream

½ cup milk or cream
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla

2 cereal bowls fresh clean snow.

Mix milk, sugar and vanilla together. Stir until vanilla is dissolved.  Add fresh snow and stir gently until it is thoroughly mixed.  Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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Corn and Sweet Potato Soup

October 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Jalapeño corn chowder
Image by sonicwalker via Flickr

I haven’t had a chance to make this one yet but doesn’t it sound yummy?

(Serves 6)

1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cups water
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock
3 cups corn, tinned
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 fresh jalapeno, minced
1 cup milk
Juice of ½ lemon
Cayenne pepper
2 -3 tbsp cream
Parsley or cilantro for garnish

Place diced sweet potatoes, water and vegetable stock in a pot and simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender.

In the meantime, heat olive oil in a skillet, add onion and a pinch of salt, and fry until nice and brown.

Add the onions to the potatoes. Mix well. Purée the soup with a blender. Once smooth, add corn, peppers and milk and simmer until tender. Then mix in lemon juice and a bit of cayenne pepper and salt. Stir in cream and serve immediately.

Serve with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro and nice crusty bread.

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Menu Plan – Great Way to Save Time in the Kitchen

September 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Tonight's dinner featuring stovetop mac and cheese
Image by She Who Shall Not Be Named via Flickr

If you’ve been around this blog for a while you know that we’re big fans of the ladies over at Dine Without Whine – the family meal planning experts. Click HERE for a free sample meal plan from them. This article helps to see the benefits of making a family meal plan. Enjoy!

Like many families, you may feel the effects of a slowing economy. You may be searching for ways to save money and time. Think of making a menu plan – it’s a great way to save time and money in the kitchen.

Creating nutritious meals day in and day out may be tiresome. If you start with a menu plan, you can make weekly meals your family will love. Here are some things to consider about creating menu plans:

* A menu plan allows you to create a focused grocery shopping list. Knowing what you need for each meal keeps you from racing through the grocery store trying to find something for dinner.

* A menu plan also allows you to save time in the kitchen. By knowing what you need, you know you have everything in place before beginning to make the meal.

* You can make a menu plan for one week, two weeks, or more. Keep each week’s menu plan and you can take notes on them about which ones the family liked, which ones they’d rather never eat again, and changes to side dishes that might be better.

* Putting together a meal plan can be a great way to feed your family a meal they’ll love as well as end your family’s hectic day on a peaceful note.

Now you know how making a menu plan can save you time and money in the kitchen. If you’ve never made a menu plan before, you may like to learn. Here are some easy steps you may want to follow when making your first one; you may want your family’s help.

1. Make a list of all the main dishes your family enjoys; don’t forget anything. It won’t matter how neat the list is, it’s just to get the ideas down on paper.

2. Try to write down the amount of time needed to prepare each dish. You may want to mark dishes that take considerably longer than 30 minutes to prepare, not counting cooking time, so you can save those for days you have more time.

3. Put each main dish into categories such as Mexican, Italian, Sandwiches, Soups and Salads, or Casseroles.

4. Decide which day you’ll do your shopping. Many people do all of their grocery shopping on Saturday. You may want to have leftovers on Friday night to make shopping day easier.

5. Check your calendar and look to see if there are any really busy days. Plan on having soup and salads on that night.

6. Fill in the rest of the calendar with a category. Determine which category of food you’ll have each night and then plan on having that category of dish every week on the same day.

7. After you have your categories planned, now it’s time to look through your cupboards to see which ingredients you already have and which ingredients you need to purchase. You can create your focused shopping list based on the ingredients you need for the meals on your meal plan.

8. Be flexible. Plans change, people stop over, or meetings are called. By having a meal plan, you can choose to switch meals from one day to another and still know you have everything you need.

Menu planning can make meal time much easier for your family. Look at these suggestions and use those you find helpful. Then get out some paper, a pen, and your calendar and make your own meal plan – a great way to save time and money in the kitchen.

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Super Pear Sandwich

September 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

photo of a pear, still-life by Keaton Cooper
Image via Wikipedia

This sandwich might be a hard sell for your little ones but what a nice treat for mom!

2 pears, peeled and sliced
8 slices of bread (preferably sourdough)
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
½ cup Havarti cheese, grated
¼ cup sour cream

In a bowl, mix together the blue and havarti cheese. Spread sour cream on one side of each slice of bread and top 4 bread slices with sliced pears and cheese mix. Grill sandwiches and the other 4 slices of bread for a few minutes until the cheese is melted and the bread is browned. Top pear and cheese sandwich with toasted slice of bread and enjoy immediately.

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Delicious Honey Yogurt Dip

August 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

1 cup plain yogurt
Grated peel of lemon or lime
1 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp honey

Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover and put in the fridge for at least 10 hours. The mixture will thicken. Yields 1 cup.

Enjoy this dip with seasonal cut up fruit, from melon, pineapple pieces, grapes, strawberries, mango, papaya, bananas to oranges. The dip is the perfect accompaniment to get your whole family to stock up on vitamins.

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7 Back to School Lunch Tips

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Independence High School's cafeteria during lunch.
Image via Wikipedia

Another great Lunchtime article! Enjoy!

Don’t look now, but school’s here! Are you ready for one of the biggest challenges for Moms of school-age kids – preparing school lunches day after day?

There’s hope and help for you yet. Here are 7 back-to-school lunch tips. Hey, I can’t come over and make your kids’ lunches for you, but these tips will surely make it much easier:

1. Make dinner do double-duty

You’re already in the kitchen preparing your family’s dinner, why not use that time to get a head-start on the next day’s brown bag lunches?

Make a double batch of meals that taste just as good “the morning after,” you know, like fried chicken. Or cook dishes that can be transformed into something “new”, such as pasta sauce that’s just as yummy as pizza topping (on ready-made crust of course).

To make meal planning easier, take a look at Dine Without Whine. It’s a monthly service for planning your family’s meals and grocery shopping.

2. Include lunches when meal planning

To do tip #1, you need to be more organized. This means including your kids’ lunches when planning your family dinners.

3. Let the kids participate

Lighten your load and teach your children some important life skills at the same time. Even small children can help prepare their lunches.

If morning is too stressful, then make this an after-dinner activity – which brings us to…

4. Make advance preparations

Do whatever you can do ahead of time. For example, cook in batches on the weekend, or put leftovers in packable containers the night before.

5. DIY fast food

Commercial packed lunches are attractive but unhealthy. But who says you can’t make your own? Buy your own colorful and attractive lunch boxes, such as a bento-style lunchbox.

Fill it up with a variety of healthy food. Think of mixing up foods with different textures and colors. And cut them up into small pieces so they’re easy and fast to eat.

6. Soup it Up

Soup makes a quick and healthy lunch. You can cook a large pot in the weekend and pack it in a thermos for a warm and satisfying lunch. Serve with whole wheat bread and some fresh fruit and you’ve got a complete meal!

7. Sprinkle in some fun

Sneak a little surprise into your child’s lunchbox once in a while. It could be a little chocolate treat, stickers, or a sweet note from you. Getting something unexpected makes lunch fun.

With planning and creativity, your children can have healthy, delicious lunches without too much work for you.

For meal planning help, go to Dine Without Whine. It makes meal planning a breeze, while helping you save time and money.

Then you’ll have time and energy for those school lunches.

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Spinach Rice Salad

August 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Image via Wikipedia

Another unique and healthy meal that the kids will love (as long as you don’t tell them there’s spinach in there!). We’re making Popeye proud today!

6 cups fresh spinach, torn
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
1 tbsp honey
1 cup green grapes, cut in half
1 cup raspberries
2 oranges, peeled and cut into sections
2 tsp fresh basil
2 cups of brown rice, cooked and chilled
Salt and pepper to taste

Add spinach, rice, grapes and sunflower seeds to a large salad bowl and combine.

Blend vinegar, oil, honey, basil, salt and pepper thoroughly and pour over rice mixture. Toss until well coated then gently add oranges and raspberries.

This is a great Bar-B-Que side dish. Great with leftover cold fried chicken too!

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Spiced Popcorn

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Everything you need to know about microwave po...
Image by jmacphoto.com via Flickr

Great for the whole family, this is a different “look” at popcorn! Makes a great accompaniment to soup too!

1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup popping corn
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sweet paprika

In a little bowl, mix paprika, thyme, oregano, onion salt and half the vegetable oil.

Heat other half of oil in saucepan. When oil is very hot, add popping corn and cover with tight fitting lid. When the corn starts popping, give the pan a shake. When the corn stops popping, take pan off heat.

Place popcorn into a serving bowl, discarding any unpopped corn. Add the spice mixture and toss.

Great addition to any lunchbox.

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School lunches

July 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

School lunch
Image by chidorian via Flickr

This is a great article about school lunches but don’t ignore it if you don’t have kids in school yet! Print off this list of lunch ideas and keep it for your home lunches too! Enjoy!

School Lunches
by Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam of LivingonaDime.com

It’s that wonderful time of year that lightens your heart and fills your soul with peace & tranquility. No, I’m not talking about Christmas! I’m talking about school starting!! Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s a bitter sweet time for most moms. Bitter because you’re back to hectic mornings, finding everyone’s books and papers and trying to get them out of the door on time… because you now have 180 lunches to make over the next 9 months if you have 1 child and 720 if you have 4 — But hey, who’s counting? It is sweet because the peaceful quietness that penetrates the house is like gentle music to your ears and you can take a lovely relaxing bubble bath without what sounds like the whole US army trying to break down the bathroom door. Well, now that I think about it I’ve not known many moms that had the luxury of a bubble bath in the middle of the day but I can dream can’t I? I can’t help you find time for that bubble bath but maybe I can help you with those 720 lunches. Here are a few lunch and snack ideas from Dining On A Dime Cookbook to help out.

*To keep drinks cold in lunch boxes, pour a small amount in the bottom of the container (not glass) and then set the cap loosely on top. Put it in the freezer overnight. The next day fill with the rest of the drink. The ice should slowly melt all day long, keeping the beverage cool.

*Save the catsup and mustard packets and napkins you don’t use from the fast food restaurants. Use them in lunch boxes.

*Puddings – sprinkle with marshmallows, coconut, nuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips or peanut butter chips (for chocolate pudding) or berries (in vanilla pudding)

*Banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread

*Tuna, egg or chicken salad sandwich

*Tuna salad and crackers

*Sandwiches made from last night’s dinner meat (ie. roast beef, chicken ,turkey)


*Ants on a log-celery with peanut butter inside and raisins on the peanut butter

*Hot dogs

*Canned fruit

*Carrot sticks, celery sticks or radishes with Ranch dressing

*Homemade granola bars

Granola Bars

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup sugar

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

2 Tbsp. honey

½ tsp. vanilla

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

1 ½ cups rolled oats

1 ¼ cups crispy rice cereal

½ cup wheat germ (optional)

1 cup chocolate chips*

In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter until fluffy. Add honey, vanilla and egg. Mix well. Blend in flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Stir in remaining ingredients. Press firmly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350< for 20-25 minutes.

To microwave: Press ingredients into a microwave safe dish. Microwave on medium power for 7-9 minutes. Rotate dish every three minutes. Bars will firm as they stand. Cool and cut into bars. Save the crumbs for yogurt or ice cream topping. Makes 24 bars

*The following may be used in addition to or to replace chocolate chips

1 cup coconut

½ cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

½ cup nuts

½-1 cup raisins, dried apples, apricots

½ cup fruit preserves

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit www.LivingOnADime.com

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